Hatsan Hercules .357
Jim Chapman
www.americanairgunhunter.com
Publication Date: 11/25/2016
I’ve been shooting the Hatsan Hercules for some time now, and
have had a chance to use it off the bench as well as in the field
hunting. I’m going to tell you about that experience and take a
look at what I like, what I’m less thrilled about, and where I think
this rifle fits into my hunting armature. I will say before starting
that Hatsan has been coming out with some very interesting
offerings, that are characterized by solid reliable designs and
quality of build, and doing so at an affordable price point.
The Hatsan Hercules comes in a range of calibers (.177, .22, .25, .30, .357. and a new .45), but in this article, I’ll stick with the .357 I’ve
been using. As an aside, I’ve been shooting the .45 version for a few weeks and will be taking it on some upcoming hunts, videos and
articles will come out as I get more experience with the rifle.
The first thing you’ll note with this rifle is that it is big (about 48” LOA), it has two air bottles integrated into the design forward and aft,
and that it has a shrouded barrel. The furniture on this rifle is has a tactical look, black synthetic, pistol grip, and Picatinny rails for
mounting accessories. A frequent complaint with bottle for buttstock rifles is the ergonomics and mount, but the Hercules has an
adjustable cover for the rear bottle that allows for a comfortable and repeatable mount that permits a good cheekweld. The air bottles
are each 500 cc for a total of 1000 cc of air that can be filled to pressures of 250 BAR that permits a high shot count. The trigger is a
two-stage adjustable, and the auto deployed safety is on the right side at the rear of the receiver.
To fill the gun, a proprietary probe is inserted into a port that is covered until the gun is cocked, at which time the cover automatically
shifts to an open position. The filling is monitored by an onboard manometer situated under the forestock at about the guns’ midpoint.
The rifle is cycled through a side lever mechanism, which I must say I have a strong bias towards. To load the rotary magazine, the
Hercules is cocked and a lever is pushed forward to disengage the magazine and allow it to be lifted out. For the type of hunting I
intend to use this rifle for my ammunition selection was the JSB .357 Exact Diabolo pellet. To insert the loaded magazine this process
is reversed. Having shot 5-6 tins of pellets so far, I have not had a misfeed or failure either shooting off the bench or in the field.
Shooting the JSB pellets at 50 yards off my bench, I could stack all 9 pellets from a magazine into a single (large) hole. The gun is
quite shootable and I find the synthetic stock and butt stock ergonomic, though it must again be mentioned that this is a large rifle. The
sidelever is fast and easy to cycle, and the action is very fast to deploy. As mentioned the auto indexing of the magazine is very
reliable, and I appreciate the anti double-load feature a nice one as I hate to admit to how often I do this while hunting. I can easily
keep my shots in the kill zone of a coyote at 75 yards shooting off sticks, and this is where the gun really fits for me; a practical
close/medium range predator gun that I feel comfortable going after hogs with. Between the power (140 fpe), the rapid action, high
shot count, and low sound signature of this Hatsan made it a great hunting gun for the intended use. It’s also worth noting that in .357
this gun is much more than you need for small game, but it is not so over powered as to be ridiculous. The ability to bridge multiple
applications improves the value proposition further, though this is more a function of the caliber and the terminal performance not just
the gun alone.
What was I less thrilled about? The gun is big and heavy, so if your either small in stature, hunting in very tight spaces, or planning to
hike many miles on you hunts it might be more than you want. I love the ability to quickly cycle side lever and magazine, but don’t love
that the safety is automatically deployed mitigating the advantage and slowing me back down. The trigger is heavy out of the box so
you need to work on it to lighten the pull. And finally, not a big fan of having to cock the gun to access the fill port, there was no actual
problem encountered, it just didn’t feel right. Would any of these criticisms cause me to decide against this rifle? Perhaps the size if I
needed a compact and lightweight gun. The trigger can be adjusted, the fill probe isn’t really impactful, and the auto deployed safety is
just the way many guns are going in our litigious society. And with practice I can cycle the gun quickly and knock of the safety in a
fluent movement, still not as fast if I could just cock the rifle and shoot but still faster than many of my other big bores.
Specifications
Caliber ................ .357
Power .................. 145 fpe
Accuracy ............. > 1/2" at 50yds
Power Plant.......... PCP
Action................... Side Lever
LOA...................... 42"
Trigger.................. 2 Stage adjustable
Conclusion:
This is not a gun I’d select (at least in the
.357) as my primary big game gun, but it
is a solid predator gun and weigh the
right shot placement a valid hog gun!
This is a gun to consider if you’re
looking for a mid bore……. And I’ll have
additional information on the big .45
version coming soon!
The Hercules is very shootable
and the synthetic stock can be
adjusted to suit the shooter. This
rifle has one of the best buttstock
configurations I've used on a
bottle-in-the-back design,
certainly at this price point. The
high shot count in a gun of this
caliber, and generating such a
high energy output is outstanding!
But, the price you pay is a larger
rifle. Overall I like the Hatsan and
think it well worth a look if you
want a predator hunting rifle.
Side lever action, a nine shot rotary
magazine that is reliable, simple
and fast to load enhance the rifles
utility in the field. It is easy to fill,
and fills to 250 BAR.
Even though the Hercules
is quite large, I found it
ergonomic and that I could
shoot well from an position,
at least for a time. I did
start to notice the heft
during prolonged shooting
sessions. I have no
complaints about the
performance of this rifle, a
balance of accuracy,
power, and shot count.
Having used this rifle to take several hogs in the 50-80 lb range, I feel
comfortable using it for quarry larger than a coyote.
Click on the link to
see the gun in action during a recent pig hunt down in Texas!